How to enter a cell in Excel

Mar25How to start a new line in Excel cell: 3 ways to insert a line breakby Svetlana Cheusheva | updated on July 5, 2021The tutorial will teach you three quick and easy ways to add

How to enter a cell in Excel
Svetlana Cheusheva

Mar25

How to start a new line in Excel cell: 3 ways to insert a line break

by Svetlana Cheusheva | updated on July 5, 2021

The tutorial will teach you three quick and easy ways to add a line break in Excel cell: use a shortcut to type multiple lines, Find & Replace feature to add a carriage return after a specific character, and a formula to combine text pieces from several cells each starting in a new line.

When using Excel for storing and manipulating text entries, you may sometimes want a certain part of a text string to start in a new line. A good example of multi-line text could be mailing labels or some personal details entered in one cell.

In most Office applications, starting a new paragraph is not a problem - you simply press Enter on your keyboard. In Microsoft Excel, however, this work differently - pressing the Enter key completes the entry and moves the cursor to the next cell. So, how do you create a new line in Excel? There are three swift ways to do this.

  • How to start new line in Excel cell
  • Tips to do carriage return in Excel
  • Insert line break in cell after certain character
  • Enter new line in Excel with formula

How to start a new line in Excel cell

The fastest way to create a new line within a cell is by using a keyboard shortcut:

  • Windows shortcut for line break: Alt + Enter
  • Mac shortcut for line feed: Control + Option + Return or Control + Command + Return

In Excel 365 for Mac, you can also use Option + Return. Option is the equivalent of the Alt key on Windows, so it seems the original Windows shortcut (Alt + Enter) now works for Mac too. If it does not work for you, then try the traditional Mac shortcuts above.

If you are accessing Excel for Mac via Citrix, you can make a new line with the Command + Option + Return key combination. (Thank you Amanda for this tip!)

To add a new line in Excel cell with a shortcut, please follow these steps:

  1. Double-click the cell where you want to enter a line break.
  2. Type the first part of the text. If the text is already in the cell, place the cursor where you want to break the line.
  3. On Windows, hold Alt while pressing the Enter key. In Excel for Mac, hold Control and Option while pressing the Return key.
  4. Press Enter to finish up and exit the edit mode.

As the result, you will get multiple lines in Excel cell. If the text still shows up in one line, make sure the Wrap text feature is turned on.

Start a new line in Excel cell.

Tips to do a carriage return in Excel

The following tips show how to avoid common problems when inserting multiple lines in one cell and demonstrate a couple of unobvious uses.

Enable Wrap text

To see multiple lines in a cell, you need to have Wrap text enabled for that cell. For this, simply select the cell(s) and click the Wrap Text button on the Home tab, in the Alignment group. In some cases, you may also need to adjust cell width manually.

Enable Wrap text to see multiple lines in a cell.

Add multiple line breaks to increase spacing between lines

If you'd like to have a gap of two or more lines between different text parts, press Alt + Enter twice or more times. This will insert consecutive line feeds within a cell like shown in the screenshot below:

Enter multiple line breaks between lines

Create a new line in formula to make it easier to read

Sometimes, it may be helpful to show lengthy formulas in multiple lines to make them easier to understand and debug. The Excel line break shortcut can do this too. In a cell or in the formula bar, place the cursor before the argument that you want to move to a new line and press Ctrl + Alt. After that, press Enter to complete the formula and exit the edit mode.

Showing a formula in multiple lines

How to insert a line break after a specific character

In case you received a worksheet with many one-line entries, breaking each line manually might take hours. Luckily, there is an extremely useful trick to put multiple lines into all selected cells in one go!

As an example, let's add a carriage return after each comma in a text string:

  1. Select all the cells in which you want to start a new line(s).
  2. Press Ctrl + H to open the Replace tab of Excel's Find and Replace dialog. Or click Find & Select > Replace on the Home tab, in the Editing group.
  3. In the Find and Replace dialog box, do the following:
  • In the Find what field, type a comma and a space (, ). If your text strings are separated by commas without spaces, type only a comma (,).
  • In the Replace with field, press Ctrl + J to insert a carriage return. This will insert a line break in place of each comma; the commas will be removed. If you'd like to keep a comma at the end of each line but last, type a comma and then press the Ctrl + J shortcut.
  • Click the Replace All button.
Inserting line breaks instead of commas

Done! Multiple lines are created in the selected cells. Depending on your input in the Replace with field, you will get one of the following results.

All commas are replaced with carriage returns:

Commas are replaced with carriage returns.

A line break is inserted after each comma, keeping all the commas:

A new line is created after each comma in a cell.

How to create a new line in Excel cell with a formula

The keyboard shortcut is useful for manually entering new lines in individual cells, and the Find and Replace is great for breaking multiple lines at a time. In case you are combining data from several cells and want each part to start in a new line, the best way to add a carriage return is by using a formula.

In Microsoft Excel, there is a special function to insert different characters in cells - the CHAR function. On Windows, the character code for the line break is 10, so we'll be using CHAR(10).

To put together the values from multiple cells, you can use either the CONCATENATE function or the concatenation operator (&). And the CHAR function will help you insert line breaks in between.

The generic formulas are as follows:cell1 & CHAR(10) & cell2 & CHAR(10) & cell3 &

OrCONCATENATE(cell1, CHAR(10), cell2, CHAR(10), cell3, )

Assuming the pieces of text appear in A2, B2 and C2, one of the following formulas will combine them in one cell:

=A2&CHAR(10)&B2&CHAR(10)&C2

=CONCATENATE(A2, CHAR(10), B2, CHAR(10), C2)

Creating new lines in Excel cell with a formula

In Excel for Office 365, Excel 2019 and Excel 2019 for Mac, you can also use the TEXTJOIN function. Unlike the above formulas, the syntax of TEXTJOIN allows you to include a delimiter for separating text values, which makes the formula more compact and easier to build.

Here's a generic version:TEXTJOIN(CHAR(10), TRUE, cell1, cell2, cell3, )

For our sample data set, the formula goes as follows:

=TEXTJOIN(CHAR(10), TRUE, A2:C2)

Where:

  • CHAR(10) adds a carriage return between each combined text value.
  • TRUE tells the formula to skip empty cells.
  • A2:C2 are the cells to join.

The result is exactly the same as with CONCATENATE:

Excel formula to add carriage returns in a cell

Notes:

  • For multiple lines to appear in a cell, remember to have Text Wrap enabled and adjust the cell width if needed.
  • The character code for a carriage return varies depending on the platform. On Windows, the line break code is 10, so you use CHAR(10). On Mac, it's 13, so you use CHAR(13).

That's how to add a carriage return in Excel. I thank you for reading and hope to see you on our blog next week!

Available downloads

Formulas to enter new line in Excel cell

You may also be interested in

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  • How to wrap text in Excel
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  • Combine Excel files into one
  • Compare two files / worksheets
  • Merge 2 columns in Excel
  • Compare 2 columns in Excel for matches and differences
  • How to merge two or more tables in Excel
  • CONCATENATE in Excel: combine text strings, cells and columns
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  • 3 ways to remove spaces between words in Excel cells

Table of contents

37 comments to "How to start a new line in Excel cell: 3 ways to insert a line break"

Mark Mabee says:April 7, 2022 at 10:33 pm

I have an Excel workbook which I first started working on in Excel 2011 and was using the following:

&IF(INFO("system")="mac",CHAR(13),CHAR(10))&

This worked perfectly until I moved up to excel 2019 on a newer Mac and found that CHAR(13) doesn't work but CHAR(10) does. So now I have to incorporate an INFO("release")) into the test and check the first characters of the response for "14" or "16"

I assume that excel 2016 would respond with "15". Does anyone know if CHAR(13) or CHAR(10) should be used with Excel 2016. Perhaps I should just use CHAR(10)&CHAR(13) and forget the tests for both system and release since CHAR(10) appears to do nothing on older versions and CHAR(13) appears to do nothing on newer versions.Reply

Uday Bhaskar Reddy says:March 27, 2022 at 9:20 am

How could I ever thank you for all the information you provide for various problems. Still a big THANK YOU and GOD BLESS!Reply

Date says:December 20, 2021 at 8:07 pm

Great article. This helped when creating addresses for labels.Reply

ahmad says:December 5, 2021 at 10:45 am

thanks, CHAR(10) was what i needed and you gave meReply

Sajid Nadeem says:November 4, 2021 at 6:57 am

@NAMSU please use two time Alt+Enter one will break your line and one for a blank line that is required.Reply

Megan says:October 8, 2021 at 1:32 pm

Is it possible to create multiple lines of space between the formulas with the CHAR(10) function? I have the line break set up now, but would prefer to have 2 line breaks between my formulas rather than one to make the appearance cleaner.

CURRENT:
Formula 1
Formula 2

PREFERRED:
Formula 1

Formula 2

Thanks in advance!Reply

Alexander Trifuntov (Ablebits Team) says:October 11, 2021 at 8:52 am

Hello!
Your formulas are written in two different cells. You need to insert a blank row between them.Reply

NAMSU says:October 5, 2021 at 7:59 am

I am using Text and formulas in a same cell and want to break my result in two lines. That's how I achieved.

=" AED 1,000 for USD " & FIXED((1000/3.84),2,FALSE)
& "
" &
" AED 432 for USD " & FIXED((432/384),2,FALSE)

Then, select "Wrap Text " option.

The result will be...

AED 1,000 for USD 260.42
AED 432 for USD 1.13

The " [Alt+ Enter]" after the second "&" insert the carriage return.

FIXED: is for converting number into Financial text.Reply

Sanjiv Talwar says:September 23, 2021 at 3:53 pm

Char(10) works very well in Excel for Mac (version 16.53). Char(13) doesn't. Appreciate ablebits for the well written artcileReply

roland says:September 15, 2021 at 12:58 pm

Man, am I glad I found this post! On my iMac, cnt+opt+return just wasn't working for me, then I saw where there was a difference, if you were using Citrix on your Mac, with cmd+opt+ret.

Thank you Amanda!!!Reply

Ash says:April 27, 2021 at 12:18 am

I'm using Office Professional Plus 2016 and CHAR(10) is not working at all. I'm quite familiar with functions like this and the ASCII table, but it's just not working for me. I'm sure I've done it successfully in other workplaces.Reply

Ash says:April 27, 2021 at 1:03 am

Solved my own problem. Even though CHAR(10) did used to work in older versions of Excel, you have to set the cell to "wrap text" for it to work now. If you use ALT+ENTER to manually put the new line in as you type, Excel automatically sets the cell to "wrap text", so it's seamless when you do it that way.Reply

Chav says:April 15, 2021 at 2:12 pm

Some great work and advice here! High end know-how. Thank you.Reply

Rachel says:February 23, 2021 at 2:19 am

How can I create a single carriage return in a cell WITHOUT using Alt + enter? This action is conflicting with the virtual meeting software we are using. Ideas?Reply

Azri says:January 20, 2021 at 1:39 am

Thank you, thank you. This was a life saver!
Mac and MS office really need to kiss and make up....Reply

Mary El says:November 11, 2020 at 5:36 pm

Thank you for including the shortcut for Citrix use, big help.Reply

Jennifer says:September 16, 2020 at 6:43 pm

How can I press enter and then go to the next row. For example if I am typing in a row and now I am done and I am at cell G1 and now I want to go to A2. If I hit enter it goes to G2. This might sound stupid but we are trying to format a spreadsheet to go to the next line when you hit enter not tab. And we want to be able to hit enter for each cell in the row rather than tab. Is that possible? Thank you.Reply

Alexander Trifuntov (Ablebits Team) says:September 17, 2020 at 11:32 am

Hello!
This is only possible with a VBA macroReply

Graham says:February 11, 2021 at 9:41 am

You could merge+centre the full row of cells to the width you require - left align it and then when you hit enter you would go into the next row treated the same way, and it would appear as if you are typing into the next line.Reply

Marco says:January 6, 2022 at 5:04 pm

Maybe this will work for you.

Place your cursor in A1
Use the Tab button to move across to G1
Complete your data
Press Enter
Your cursor should now be in A2

You will then have to Tab across to G each time for this to work next time you press enter.Reply

Viktor says:August 24, 2020 at 9:24 am

you can try using Command + Shift + Enter to break a new line in Mac. Hope it helps you out.Reply

Amanda says:July 28, 2020 at 4:38 pm

I'm also accessing Excel via Citrix and this has been driving me SO crazy, but I just figured it out! Command+Option+Return worked! Not sure why the order changed from before.Reply

Terry says:August 26, 2020 at 3:38 pm

Amanda, you rock! Thanks :)Reply

Manoj says:June 9, 2021 at 10:06 am

Awesome!!!! This worked for me as wellReply

Kate says:July 20, 2020 at 7:17 pm

I was having this issue and finally got it to work by pressing [option + return] only. The option key is considered the alt key on a MacReply

Sumit says:July 3, 2020 at 8:33 pm

I would like to trim multiple lines within a cell can you anyone give any solution or suggestion on my question?Reply

Alexander Trifuntov (Ablebits Team) says:July 6, 2020 at 9:25 am

Hello!
Im sorry but your task is not entirely clear to me.
Please describe your problem in more detail. Include an example of the source data and the result you want to get. Itll help me understand your request better and find a solution for you. Thank you.Reply

chris says:July 20, 2020 at 3:48 pm

we all have the same problem, we can't get rid of returns in a cell on a Mac. None of the PC options work. We are typically copying something from a website and it througs a return in the cell. when will someone here answer the bloody question??????Reply

Mi Mi says:June 30, 2020 at 7:40 pm

I am trying to do a line return on a excel sheet using a mac in the same cell. I have tried cntl + Cmnd + rtn and cntl + opt+ rtn I have tried numerous times on several different excel sheets. Also tried FN + opt+ rtn. Opt+ rtn. I have no alt key on the Mac.Reply

Hayden Streater says:June 29, 2020 at 9:35 am

For a mac, adopt the same process for formula but use CHAR(13).Reply

Jules says:June 24, 2020 at 12:24 pm

also unable to use the key combinations to do a carriage return in an excel cell using a Mac. Any ideas?Reply

Natalie says:June 17, 2020 at 10:02 pm

I'm on a Mac using excel online. I am trying to do a line return in a cell, i.e., make a new line in the same cell. There is no ALT key.
cntl+cmnd+rtn] nor [cntl+optn+rtn] do not work. I tried it once and it worked. And now it doesn't work anymore. I've tried it 20 times.
What do I do?Reply

Svetlana Cheusheva says:August 31, 2020 at 9:07 am

Hi Natalie,

The equivalent of Alt on a Mac is the Option key, though in many cases they behave differently. For more information, please see How to use the Alt key on a Mac keyboard.

So, if you are using Mac Excel 365, please try Option + Enter to make a new line in a cell.Reply

Goran Ignjatic says:June 2, 2020 at 12:58 am

Hi, the instructions for carriage break in a excel cell do not seem to work for me. I am using Office 365 but via Citrix on a Mac. There is no Alt key, but neither [cntl+cmnd+rtn] nor [cntl+optn+rtn] seem to work. The cell already has an existing Carriage return, ie two lines of text (so yes Warp Text is definitely already enabled for the cell) and I need to add a third line.Reply

Dennis Heggenstaller says:July 26, 2020 at 4:11 pm

yOU MAY NEED TO MAKE YOUR COLUNM WIDER ABSD TURN TEXT WRAPPING ON AS WELLReply

Anjali Turner says:November 9, 2020 at 5:53 pm

I think I've found it after trying all combinations. I am also using Office 365 via Citrix on a Max but I do have a function key and an alt key.

I've found 'fn' + 'alt + 'cmd' works for me!Reply

klind says:December 14, 2020 at 5:34 pm

Thank you! This worked for me and is going to save me a ton of time on a project!Reply

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